Joan Hewatt Swaim
TCU's NEWEST building -- the Mary D. and F. Howard Walsh Center for Performing
Arts -- is placed in juxtaposition with one of the two oldest buildings
on the campus, Jarvis Hall.
hall for women when new in 1911, Jarvis is a residence hall for women
now. And it surely is among my earliest memory imprints of TCU. From age
6 through my teen years, I lived with my family on Rogers Road, just one-half
block from the northern boundary of the TCU campus. Until Landreth was
built in 1949, Jarvis was the first building one saw when looking campusward
from the corner of Rogers and Cantey Street, a corner I passed daily on
my way to Alice E. Carlson Elementary School farther west down Cantey.
I also often walked behind, through, or in front of Jarvis to get to my
Grandma Georgia's workplace in the basement cafeteria of what is now Reed
Hall (the other 1911 structure), and to get to my father's biology office
in the basement of old Clark Hall. The latter was razed in 1959 to make
way for the new Sadler Hall.
early days when I first knew it, the attractive and comfortable parlor
of Jarvis was the primary site of university social gatherings, including
receptions for visiting dignitaries, TCU Faculty Woman's Club teas, senior
women's teas, and other students' events. Since my mother, as a faculty
wife, and my grandmother, as university dietitian, were involved in many
of these "socials," I was often allowed to observe, from the periphery,
the splendor of the decorated table with its silver trays of dainty sandwiches
and pastries, and to watch the ladies and gentlemen in their fine clothes
and listen to their polite, pleasant talk. I didn't know then, nor for
a long time after, that this very parlor was the scene of a more somber
occasion, my maternal grandfather's funeral service in 1923. Frank L.
Harris had been the first steward of the cafeteria-style dining room at
TCU; after his death, his wife, my Grandma Georgia, would take over that
office and stay for 21 years. There was no church on the TCU hill at the
time of his death, much less a funeral chapel, so Jarvis' parlor served.
too, if I was with my grandmother on her way to our house from work, we
would go through Jarvis to visit the dean of women, Miss Elizabeth Shelburne,
and her tiny little mother, Mrs. Cephus Shelburne, who had rooms on the
first floor. And, as a Camp Fire girl, I used to sell donuts in Jarvis
Hall. To this little girl, all of the TCU buildings then were cavernous
halls where important and interesting grownup activities took place. Jarvis
was my first view of campus dormitory life. Jarvis girls were grownups
living together and having a good time; everyone was pleasant and smiling
and laughing -- and buying my donuts. Every now and again, I could hear
someone say "That's Dr. Hewatt's daughter" in a tone that made me proud.
not only old in years, but its name also is venerable. Called simply the
"Girls' Home" when built, it was soon named by vote of the Board of Trustees
in honor of Major and Mrs. J.J. Jarvis, devoted and lifelong supporters
of the university. Major Jarvis was a Fort Worth lawyer, businessman,
and entrepreneur. When the infant forerunner of TCU had been relocated
from Fort Worth to Thorp Spring, Major and Mrs. Jarvis gave generously
of their money and time to secure its mission. When Add-Ran College was
chartered in 1889 as Add-Ran University (today spelled AddRan), Major
Jarvis was elected the first president of the Board.
wife, Ida Van Zandt Jarvis, was herself not only active but indeed influential
in the affairs of TCU. An account written by Add-Ran alumna, Frankie Miller
Mason, represents her as sympathetic to students, and one delightful story
has her with white-flagged "truce" umbrella in hand confronting the president
of the college, Addison Clark himself, on behalf of a large portion of
the student body whose expulsion seemed imminent, all because of what
she considered to be a slight infraction of the rules. The controversy
was sparked by the discovery that a young male student had walked a young
lady from the Thorp Spring campus to her home in the little town one evening,
a strictly forbidden practice in 1882. In his defense, a large number
of classmates owned up that they, too, had at one time or another violated
that rule as well as others, whereupon Dr. Clark informed them all that
they could consider themselves dismissed from the school. Mrs. Jarvis,
viewing the punishment as too severe for the crime, made such a case that
the president soon saw the absurdity in his rigid discipline, reportedly
broke into laughter, and ended in not only pardoning the offenders, but
also awarding them special privileges for a brief time.
By her own
statement in an interview in 1935, it was Ida who authored the 1889 charter
making Add-Ran College a university. In an 1895 catalogue, she was listed
as supervisor of the Girls' Home at Thorp Spring. In 1915, she was successful
in having established the University's School of Home Economics, believing
that every young woman should be taught how to sew and to cook. In 1931,
she was the first woman elected to the Board of Trustees and served in
that capacity until her death in 1937. Interestingly and appropriately,
her place was filled by another woman, Sadie Beckham, who had since 1919
been the Jarvis Hall matron, supervisor of women, and later, dean of women.
It was Mrs. Sadie who, as legend has it, each evening at 7, stood on the
front steps of Jarvis ringing her cowbell to summon her charges into the
fold for the night. In her time, young ladies living on the campus were
not permitted out "after hours," nor to "date," nor to dawdle, and certainly
not to dance!
have always known some member of the Jarvis family. Until rather recently
some one of the Jarvis clan was on the campus in some capacity. Van Zandt
Jarvis, Ida and J.J.'s oldest son, was a board member for 39 years, 11
of those as chair. Many who read this will also remember geology student
and later professor, Dan Jarvis, and his sister, Ann Day Jarvis McDermott,
who was special collections librarian in the Mary Couts Burnett Library.
Dan and Ann Day were children of Van Zandt's brother, Daniel. Van Zandt's
son-in-law, B.C. "Blackie" Williams, and his son, Van, were students and
football stars at TCU. You might recall Van in his later fame as television's
years separate Jarvis and the Walsh Center, but somehow the side-by-side
works and seems okay. In fact, the modern lines and materials of the Walsh
seem to throw into greater relief the simple charm of the neoclassical
Jarvis. And while Jarvis is full of ghosts and memories for me and many
others, Walsh is essentially a blank book to be filled in by future storytellers.
Hewatt Swaim '56, author of Walking TCU: A Historical Perspective, retired
in 1995 as coordinator of bibliographic control for the Mary Couts Burnett
Library after 18 years of service. She now lives in Granbury, working
part-time as an office manager for an oil company and playing full-time
with her grandson, Asher, who is 6.